A Bharatiya Janata Party leader in Uttar Pradesh on Friday claimed that Hindu god Hanuman belonged to the Jat community, ANI reported. Minister for Religious Affairs Laxmi Narayan Chaudhary claimed that Hanuman, like members of the Jat community, would help out those in trouble without even knowing the concerned persons.

Chaudhary said that people’s lineage could be ascertained from their behaviour. “I think Hanuman ji was a Jat. It is in the nature of a Jat to help anyone who is in trouble, irrespective of whether the concerned person is known to him or her,” he said. “It is similar to the way in which Hanuman joined Ram to rescue Sita after she was abducted by Ravan.”

Chaudhary’s remarks came a day after another BJP leader, Member of Legislative Council Bukkal Nawab, claimed that Hanuman was a Muslim. “Hanuman belonged to the entire world. He was loved by people of every religion, every sect, every community,” Nawab had said. “I believe that he was a Muslim.”

At an election rally in Rajasthan’s Alwar last month, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister had said that Hanuman was a Dalit. “Hanuman was a forest dweller, deprived and a Dalit,” he had said. “Bajrang Bali worked to connect all Indian communities together, from north to south and east to west.” A Brahmin group in the state had sent Adityanath a legal notice and demanded an apology from him for his comment.

Last week, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav criticised Adityanath’s comment and said that the chief minister should reveal the castes of other gods as well. “It will be good if he [Adityanath] tells caste of all of them,” Yadav had said. “I will also pray to the God of my caste.”

Former BJP MP from Bahraich, Savitri Bai Phule, had also criticised Adityanath’s remark – she had said that if Hanuman was a Dalit, then Dalits should be appointed priests in all Hanuman temples across the country. Two days after her criticism, Phule on December 6 resigned from the party.